Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 Tips to Avoid the Project Graveyard

Do you finish what you start?
I haven’t met a creative-type who didn’t have a stash of “half-dead,” or more politely referenced, “half-finished” projects. While I think it is in our nature to follow our creative muse to newer things, I think there are ways to try to keep your projects out of the project graveyard.
1. Plan It
Some people respond to a disciplined approach, but frankly if that were my strong suit, I probably wouldn’t have a project graveyard to begin with. That being said, planning can be a useful tool in your resuscitation kit.
  • Check your supplies. An empty bottle of glue can forever derail a project.
  • Make a to-go box. I like to fill a box with supplies so if I feel like working outside I can.
  • Chunk it. You know the saying, “You can’t eat an elephant in one bite.”
  • Dedicate some time. Treat the project as special. If possible take some time off work, get a sitter, do whatever you need to do to focus.
2. Shine It
We all fall victim to the shiny object syndrome. New things capture our attention, but instead of letting new things divert you, let them inspire you.
  • Read articles. Check out ones about knitting, quilting, or whatever you’re working on.
  • Look at eye-candy. Great examples can reenergize you.
  • Re-envision it. Use new ideas to evolve the project if it is still malleable.
  • Buy something new. (such as cool buttons for the sweater you are knitting)
Note of caution: At some point inspiration seeking turns into procrastination. Couple your active inspiration seeking with designated work time without distractions.
3. Master It
I find things start to stall if my skills don’t match my vision. There are a couple of options here you could try if that seems to be your issue.
  • Put it on hold. In the meantime, pursue the skills you need.
  • Simplify the scope. Try finishing it by using a technique you do know.
  • Practice. Work on a similar, but smaller project, so you don’t have the fear of “messing it up.”
  • Get help. I have a bracelet on hold until my next visit to Mom’s house.
4. Flank It
Sometimes projects become die because we try to go it alone. Team up, and you stand a much better chance.
  • Enter an artistic challenge. When I was working on a recipe scrapbook for my mom, I did it as part “Art Every Day” Month.
  • Host a “Zombie Project” party. Invite your friends over to work on projects they’d like to raise from the dead. You could even give a prize for the oldest, most out-of-date project. Read my how-to post on Girlfriendology.
5. Salvage It
Sometimes a project sits way to long. Trends change. Take a good look and see if there is any part of it that could be repurposed. If not, do the humane thing and pull the plug.
Hope these tips help. Let me know how you manage to keep things out of your project graveyard.
About the photo: I'm trying to use more of own work to illustrate posts. This is a miniature gravestone that I created out of polymer clay.


  1. Just wandered over here from the SITS page. Cool blog! I love the Make A To Go box idea, never have thought of that. Can't wait for cooler weather here in Texas, so I can try that tip out, thanks.

  2. Visiting from today's SITS 31DBBB Challenge, and love your blog! I have a huge project graveyard, and agree that my creative mind has moved on to the next great idea before finishing what I'm working on.

    Great Post!

  3. Wow - great post! I'm here from the 31DBBB challenge, and was happy to see that post! I have one of those minds that wants to try/do everything... :)

  4. Thanks for the comments! I stopped by all of your blogs to say hi. So far the challenge has been really helpful.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with 31DBBB, it is a challenge to improve your blog. I'm going through it with the SITS group. Info is on the Problogger site.

  5. I needed to read this today, because I have many projects that have been left unfinished. Good news, I left them to pursue other projects that I finished. Bad news, they are taking up room.

    This is a list I need to print out!

  6. I love the to-go box idea! I think I need a "to-read" box or envelope for my car when I am waiting to pick up the kids from classes or am sitting in traffic that isn't moving. Great ideas and blog!

  7. @Stacy: Love the "to read" box idea.

    @Changing Woman: Space does become an issue. Every couple of years I purge.

  8. you are so right! So many truly creative people I know seem to be all over the place with things. They come across as flighty or flaky because of their lack of finishing and following up.


Ooh,a comment! How delightful.


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